NETMWD Lake O' the Pines Marine Sanitation Device Project (MSD)
The Northeast Texas Municipal Water District (NETMWD) is the Cypress Creek Basin Partner with TCEQ in the Statewide Clean Rivers Program. Under this program NETMWD has assumed responsibility for monitoring the water quality and ecosystem health in the rivers and lakes of the Cypress Creek Basin. The information developed through monitoring is critical to understanding how our waterways respond to human activity, and is the primary source of information for managing water quality and for members of the community who are interested in the health of the Lake O’ The Pines. In addition to the Clean Rivers Program, NETMWD has initiated various activities throughout the Cypress Creek Basin, particularly in the Lake O’ the Pines Management Area. Lake O’ the Pines is a major regional water supply and NETMWD aims to establish standards to maintain water and environmental quality through a program of monitoring, environmental standards and pollution prevention. One of these, the Marine Sanitation Device Project (MSD), has been established as a result of water quality concerns related to bacteria in the Lake O’ The Pines recreational and marina areas, and due to several local complaints.
Federal Law Concerning Marine Sanitation Devices Section 312 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), as amended (33 U.S.C. 1322), requires Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) to prevent the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated sewage into U.S. waters. It requires a certified operable MSD on every vessel (U.S. and foreign) with an installed toilet. Installed toilets that are not equipped with an MSD, and that discharge raw sewage directly over the side, are illegal. In accordance with the FWPCA, a State may adopt and enforce a statute or regulation with respect to the design, manufacture, or installation or use of any MSD on a houseboat, if such statute or regulation is stricter than EPA and U.S. Coast Guard requirements. The vessel owner/operator is responsible for complying with other agencies that may have jurisdiction.
Texas State Law Defining Unauthorized Discharge Water Defined Chapter 26, Section 001 of the Texas Water Code states: “Water” or “water in the state” means groundwater, percolating or otherwise, lakes, bays, ponds, impounding reservoirs, springs, rivers, streams, creeks, estuaries, wetlands, marshes, inlets, canals, the Gulf of Mexico, inside the territorial limits of the state, and all other bodies of surface water, natural or artificial, inland or coastal, fresh or salt, navigable or nonnavigable and including the beds and banks of all watercourses and bodies of surface water that are wholly or partially inside or bordering the state or inside the jurisdiction of the state. Chapter 26.121 Unauthorized Discharges Prohibited (a) Except as authorized by the commission (TCEQ), no person may: (1) Discharge sewage, municipal waste, recreational waste, agricultural waste, or industrial waste into or adjacent to any water in the state: (2) Discharge other waste into or adjacent or any water in the state which in itself or in conjunction with any other discharge or activity causes, continues to cause, or will cause pollution of any of the water in the state. (c) No person may cause, suffer, allow, or permit the discharge of any waste or the performance of any activity in violation of this chapter or of any permit or order of the commission (TCEQ). (e) No person may cause, suffer, allow, or permit the discharge from a point source of any waste or of any pollutant, or the performance or failure of any activity other than a discharge, in violation of this chapter or of any rule regulation, permit, or other order of the commission (TCEQ).
Chapter 26.001 Waste Defined “Waste” means sewage, industrial waste, municipal waste, recreational waste, agricultural waste, or other waste, as defined in this section. “Sewage” means waterborne human waste and waste from domestic activities such as washing, bathing, and food preparation. “Municipal waste” means waterborne liquid, gaseous, or solid substances that result from any discharge from a publicly owned sewer system, treatment facility, or disposal system. “Recreational waste” means waterborne liquid, gaseous, or solid substances that emanate from any public or private park, beach, or recreational area. “Other waste” means garbage, refuge, decayed wood, sawdust, shavings, bark, sand, lime, cinders, ashes, offal, oil, tar, dyestuffs, acids, chemicals, salt water, or any other substance, other than sewage industrial waste, municipal waste, recreational waste, or agricultural waste.
NETMWD started inspecting marine craft and Marina pump-out units on Lake O’ the Pines in May 2002. The following guidelines are necessary to ensure that this project meets its objective:
All Houseboats, sailboats (with water storage tanks or port-a-potties), all other craft over 26’ in length with an enclosure and permanent sleeping quarters shall be required to obtain an inspection and display a permit issued by NETMWD. The permits are renewed on at least a 2 year cycle and in some cases, depending on the type of MSD, may be required to be inspected on a more frequent time frame.
All Marinas that rent docking areas (moors) to the types of craft mentioned above should offer a pump-out service to their customers. The Chief, Natural Resources and Recreation Branch of the A.C.E. stated in a letter dated 7/26/02, “All the marinas have a requirement in their leases to install such facilities.” The pump-out unit shall be subject to an annual inspection by NETMWD and a permit issued by NETMWD shall be displayed by the Marina in order to operate this pump-out station. Houseboats that currently have or use a portable toilet device may continue to use it, however, the owner must document where and when this waste is being disposed of.
Fees: a. Boats $25 / Permit / 2 yrs. b. Boats (with treatment units) $25 / Permit / 1 yr. c. Marinas $40 / Permit / 1 yr
All boats required to have permits under these guidelines shall have their boat inspected and a permit displayed or have a letter of hardship (issued by NETMWD staff). Unless special circumstances exist, any craft operation or moored on Lake O’the Pines, without a valid permit or letter of hardship, after July 2002, will be considered non-compliant. If you have questions regarding this information or wish to set up an appointment, please contact Lee Thomas (email firstname.lastname@example.org), Ric Blevins (email email@example.com), or Brandon Shelley ( email firstname.lastname@example.org )
There is additional information about Marine Sanitation Devices and Federal law requirements on the USCoast Guard Website.